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Welcome to the Mississippi Writers Page Newsletter for August 2-8, 2002.

In this issue:


The following events all happened during this week in Mississippi history.

1850: Southwestern humorist Henry Clay Lewis drowned while crossing a swamp on a medical journey. (Aug. 5)

1915: Educator James C. Atherton was born in Bolivar, Louisiana. (Aug. 4)

1916: Historian Alfred Turney was born in Mississippi. (Aug. 6)

1917: Educator and playwright Thomas D. Pawley, III, was born in Jackson, Mississippi. (Aug. 5)

1919: William Faulkner published his first poem, “L’Apres-midi d’un faune,” in the New Republic. (Aug. 6)

1931: Religion writer June S. Wood was born in New Albany, Mississippi. (Aug. 6)

1932: William Faulkner’s father, Murry Falkner, died. (Aug. 7)

1934: Writer Norma Williamson was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi. (Aug. 8)

1937: Poet James McShan was born in Mississippi. (Aug. 5)

1938: Eudora Welty’s short story “The Whistle” was accepted for publication by Prairie Schooner. (Aug. 8)

1946: Novelist Howard Bahr was born in Meridian, Mississippi. (Aug. 3)

1950: Poet T. R. Hummer was born in Noxubee County, Mississippi. (Aug. 7)

1978: Novelist Charlaine Harris married Hal Schulz. (Aug. 5)

1995: Sociologist and writer Lisa Lekis died in Redmond, Washington. (Aug. 5)


New Grisham film finally sees a camera

July 29, 2002

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the June 19, 2002, edition of The Guardian newspaper, (

The Runaway Jury, the long-delayed adaptation of John Grisham’s novel, is finally moving into production.

The film, which concerns a ground-breaking lawsuit against a gun manufacturer, will star Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman as the lawyers for defence and prosecution, respectively. John Cusack will play the jury foreman, and Rachel Weisz has just signed up to play his girlfriend, who plays a major part in the unfolding story. Gary Fleder (Don’t Say a Word) will direct.

This line-up is the last of several for a project that was first mooted in 1996 and has been through several troublesome stages. The first teamsheet had Joel Schumacher directing Edward Norton, Gwyneth Paltrow and Sean Connery. But after a row between Connery and Schumacher, that incarnation of the project was scrapped.

After getting — and losing — directors Alfonso Cuaron and Philip Kaufman, last year saw Mike Newell set to direct with Will Smith starring. John Grisham vetoed that plan, but it seems that the current cast and director meet with his approval. Barring any hiccups, shooting is set to begin on September 16. —Copyright © Guardian Newspapers Limited.

Call for Papers: Delta Blues Symposium IX: Defining the Delta

July 28, 2002

The Department of English and Philosophy at Arkansas State University–Jonesboro campus is sponsoring its ninth Delta Blues Symposium on 27-29 March 2003. In addition to presentations on the blues and related forms of expressive culture associated with the seven-state Mississippi River Delta region, the program will focus on ways in which the “Delta” is perceived — local, regional, national, and international perspectives; insider and outside points of view; perceptions from various academic disciplines (including not only humanities and social sciences, but biological and physical sciences as well).

The Delta Blues Symposia have provided opportunities for scholars, artists, performers, and the general public with an interest in the blues and the Mississippi River Delta to come together to share insights, discuss issues, and celebrate a regional culture. Among featured presenters at Delta Blues Symposium IX will be bluesman Big Jack Johnson and writer Beverly Lowry.

Proposals for participation should consist of 250-word summaries for papers and organized panels or a sample of work for creative presentations. The deadline for proposals is 6 January 2003. Address materials to

Delta Blues Symposium IX
PO Box 1890
Department of English and Philosophy
Arkansas State University
State University, AR 72467
Phone: 870-972-3043
Fax: 870-972-3045

Do you have a news item about a Mississippi writer? Please send your information to

NEW BOOKS by Mississippi Writers

The Hermit's StoryThe Hermit’s Story: Stories
By Rick Bass
Houghton Mifflin (Hardcover, $22.00, ISBN: 061813932X)
Publication date: June 2002


Rick Bass’s best fiction yet , and the most varied collection he has ever published, The Hermit’s Story introduces both new stories and pieces previously published in some of the country’s finest periodicals.

In the title story, a man and a woman travel across an eerily frozen lake — under the ice. “The Distance” casts a skeptical eye on Thomas Jefferson through the lens of a Montana man’s visit to Monticello. “Eating” begins with an owl being sucked into a canoe and ends with a man eating a town out of house and home. Other stories include “The Cave,” “The Fireman,” “Swans,” “The Prisoners,” “Presidents’ Day,” “Real Town,” and “Two Deer.” Two of these stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, but every selection in this book is remarkable.

Tyrus: An American LegendTyrus: An American Legend
By Patrick Creevy
Forge (Hardcover, $25.95.00, ISBN: 0765300141)
Publication date: July 2002


Tyrus Raymond Cobb. Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in a nearly unanimous vote. Highest lifetime batting average in baseball. Highest lifetime number of runs scored. Second highest lifetime number of hits. The run of statistics goes on, making it clear that Ty Cobb was baseball’s greatest overall player.

But before Ty Cobb was a legend, he was a young man trying to escape from his famous father’s lengthy shadow. William H. Cobb, former state senator, renowned educator, champion of the Southern cause in the late 1800s and early 1900s, a gentleman and a scholar. Tyrus Raymond Cobb, his oldest son, was to carry on the proud Cobb family traditions, as explained by Ty Cobb: “The honorable and honest Cobb blood ... never will be subjected. It bows to no wrong nor to any man .... The Cobbs have their ideals, and God help anyone who strives to bend a Cobb away from such.”

Unfortunately for W.H., Ty’s greatest desire was to play baseball — a trivial game that would bring him into contact with low people. Yet the father could not deny that the son’s passion for his chosen profession burned hot, reflecting the very strength of will that was the hallmark of Cobb men. After much struggle, W.H. blessed his son and encouraged him to continue playing ball.

The reconciliation nearly came too late, for soon after, W. H. Cobb was shot twice at close range — murdered — by his wife of more than twenty years. Ty was nineteen years old. The grief-stricken boy burned with rage as rumors circulated through the small Georgia town — rumors that his mother had been having an affair and that his father had caught her in the act.

With his father newly buried and his mother awaiting trial, Ty Cobb was summoned to Detroit to play for the Tigers. Tyrus is a fictional account of this time in young Cobb’s life — that pivotal half-season when Ty had to prove his value on the field or forever lose any chance of playing professional ball. Subjected to a rookie hazing that would have destroyed a lesser man, Cobb carried his battle with his teammates from the clubhouse onto the field and emerged bloodied but unbowed. The sights and sounds of cut throat baseball are brilliantly evoked — a type of baseball that Cobb said was “about as gentlemanly as a kick in the crotch.”

This thoroughly researched novel is a deft psychological portrait of a young man at a time of turmoil and transition. Patrick Creevy, whose earlier novel was praised as “intense [and full of] poetic yearning and literary allusion” (Kirkus Reviews), takes a unique literary look at the man dubbed “the Meanest Man in Baseball” as he left boyhood behind and began the baseball journey that made him a legend.

Sleep No MoreSleep No More
By Greg Iles
Putnam (Hardcover, $24.95, ISBN: 0399148817)
Publication date: July 2002

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Iles has written some solid, beautifully constructed thrillers (24 Hours; Dead Sleep), so when his latest seems for page after page to have no logical explanation for its central mystery, we hold on, bide our time and wait for the moment of revelation that will make everything fall into place.

Unfortunately, that moment never comes. The puzzle of how a woman who has been dead for 10 years can suddenly appear in the body of another woman turns out not to be a mystery at all. It’s a whole other genre, horror or fantasy or science fiction. Iles fans will certainly enjoy the way he once again brings to piquant life his home turf Natchez and the Mississippi Delta and creates a character with an actual job. John Waters is a petroleum geologist, and the details of his work are carefully rendered. He’s a happily married man of 41 with a bright eight-year-old daughter, although his sex life has all but disappeared in the wake of several disastrous pregnancies. So he’s ready to be pushed over the edge by the sudden appearance of Eve Sumner, a 32-year-old real estate agent who seems to know every intimate detail of Waters’ youthful affair with the late Mallory Candler a mentally fragile beauty queen who was subsequently raped and murdered in New Orleans.

The game gets really serious when Eve is also murdered. Possibilities abound: John’s weak and financially reckless partner might be behind the whole thing, and even Waters’ embittered wife could be a suspect. Readers will probably stick around to see how Iles gets himself off the hook, but it’s hard to imagine many of them coming away completely satisfied. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Description from Booklist:

It takes an exceptional writer to make a story about soul transfer believable. Iles, who has wowed critics with his six previous thrillers, not only makes the incredible seem logical but also engages the reader completely in the hopes and doubts of his protagonist, who finds his life coming apart because of a summons from the dead. Petroleum geologist John Waters of Natchez, Mississippi, has painstakingly reconstructed his life after an affair with a beautiful but possessive woman who tried to kill him and nearly destroyed his spirit. This woman was killed in New Orleans 10 years ago. At a Mardi Gras party, a woman appears who sounds just like Waters’ long-ago love. And she knows everything about their past. Iles is masterful at sustaining psychological suspense, as Waters is drawn into an affair with the woman who claims to be his lost love, again jeopardizing his life. An irresistible page-turner. —Connie Fletcher. Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.

AUTHOR EVENTS: Book Signings, Readings, and Appearances

Aug. 1-Nov. 4: J. D. William Library, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi

“Civil Rights, Mississippi, and the Novelist’s Craft.” This exhibit highlights fictional accounts set in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement, including works by Ellen Douglas, Patrick D. Smith, Elizabeth Spencer, Eudora Welty, Lewis Nordan, William Mahoney, Joan Williams, and many others. Supplementing the display of books will be correspondence, manuscripts, and related ephemera drawn from the archive’s literary collections. Located in the Hall of Mississippi Writers in the Special Collections Department, J. D. Williams Library. Open 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays. For more information, please contact: Leigh McWhite, (662) 915-7937,

Sep. 5: Bondurant Hall Auditorium, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, 7:00 p.m.

Poetry Reading by Denise Duhamel and Nick Carbo. Joint poetry reading by two accomplished poets who are also husband and wife. Sponsored by the John and Renee Grisham Visiting Writers Series and the Department of English. For more information, contact the English Department at (662) 915-7687,

Oct. 7: Bondurant Hall Auditorium, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, 7:00 p.m.

Poetry Reading by Alan Michael Parker. Respected poet Alan Michael Parker will read from his work. Sponsored by the John and Renee Grisham Visiting Writers Series and the Department of English. For more information, contact the English Department at (662) 915-7687,

If you know of upcoming readings and appearances by Mississippi writers, please let us know by writing us at 


The following events are planned for the coming weeks and months. You may wish to begin planning now to attend or participate.

November 11, 2002

Poetry Reading by J. D. McClatchy, Bondurant Hall Auditorium, The University of Mississippi campus, in Oxford.

January 16, 2003

Poetry Reading by Tom Chandler, Bondurant Hall Auditorium, The University of Mississippi campus, in Oxford.

February 6, 2003

U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-2002) Billy Collins reads from his poetry and offers commentary on his work and other matters. Bondurant Hall Auditorium, The University of Mississippi campus in Oxford.

February 17, 2003

A reading by Clifton L. Taulbert on the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford.

March 25, 2003

Poetry Reading by Andrew Hudgins, Bondurant Hall Auditorium, The University of Mississippi campus, in Oxford.

April 10-13, 2003

Oxford Conference for the Book, Oxford, Mississippi.

July 20-25, 2003

30th Annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference, The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi

If you know of additional news items for this newsletter or if you have suggestions, please write us at

For more information about events in the Oxford and University of Mississippi community, see the Ole Miss Community Calendar:

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